Human major transitions from the perspective of distributed adaptations
Ehud Lamm, Meir Finkel, and Oren Kolodny, Human major transitions from the perspective of distributed adaptations. In Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 2023
Distributed adaptations are cases in which adaptation is dependent on the population as a whole: the adaptation is conferred by a structural or compositional aspect of the population; the adaptively relevant information cannot be reduced to information possessed by a single individual. Possible examples of human-distributed adaptations are song lines, traditions, trail systems, game drive lanes and systems of water collection and irrigation. Here we discuss the possible role of distributed adaptations in human cultural macro-evolution. Several kinds of human-distributed adaptations are presented, and their evolutionary implications are highlighted. In particular, we discuss the implications of population size, density and bottlenecks on the distributed adaptations that a population may possess and how they in turn would affect the population’s resilience to ecological change. We discuss the implications that distributed adaptations may have for human collective action and the possibility that they played a role in colonization of new areas and niches, in seasonal migration, and in setting constraints for minimal inter-population connectivity.This article is part of the theme issue ‘Human socio-cultural evolution in light of evolutionary transitions’.